Outdoor Retailer Summer Market ’10: Products that are The New, The Cool, The Quirky too, Pt. 2

Sometimes we just all simply say “wow” about a few products we see at the shows. These are The New, The Cool and, sometimes, the Quirky. What is a “wow?” Sometimes it’s the really fresh look by a company at how a piece is executed. Here in the second of two parts are our picks for this year’s ORSM new, cool and quirky in food, softgoods, gadgets, dog products and sleeping bags.
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There was so much New, Cool and Quirky at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market we broke our story into two parts this year. Click here to see our first part that covered all the cool stuff we saw to carry or otherwise transport your stuff -- bags, packs, cases, car racks. 

You may ask, what qualifies as New and Cool, let alone Quirky? Every show we spread out to find great, new stuff to tell you about. We try our hardest to be everywhere when we know you can’t. Of course, we can’t really either but we can try. New and Cool items are ones that just make us go “wow!” They are the products you want to tell everybody about. Sometimes, it’s a first, but above all else, it’s a really fresh look by a company at how a piece is executed. In other words, somebody sat back and questioned something, rethinking a design, concept or even just one or two features. Those types of products are the ones that typically produce a unified “wow.” (Of course, then there are the quirky items that somebody rethought or dreamed up -- but leave you scratching your head trying to figure out “why” rather than saying “wow.”)

As usual, this is not a complete list of great stuff on the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 floor. As we said, we TRY to be everywhere, but we’re not Houdini. Still, this list includes some highlights sought out by our team over the show’s four days.

And if during the show you missed our SNEWS Morning Reports, take a look at our daily list of five to six hot products. In this year’s Morning Reports we covered, for example, Smith’s Evolve sunglasses made from castor seed, the Plasma 30 sleeping bag from Marmotas a part of its new partnership with Pertex, the Kwicky Blade Light shoe from K-Swiss with hydrophobic technology, Eton’s solar-powered iPod/iPhone docking station called Soulra, MSR’s Gear Shed with a hooped vestibule for more lightweight space, the tiny two-LED Backpack Trail Light from Crooked Horn that hooks onto your pack straps for an always-ready light… and another 17 more hot picks not to miss. All in this year’s SNEWS Morning Reports.

Who doesn’t want to eat and drink?

Waffles are for breakfast but now they’re for the trail too. Pieces of the Honey Stinger Waffle were flying off the tasting plate. A yummy sweet treat with whole-wheat flour and honey that just melts in the mouth will be at retail in mid-October. Two small saucer-sized waffles per package (MSRP $1.60) at about 100 calories each. www.honeystinger.com

Now what do you want with those waffles if you’re camping? Java, of course. But not cowboy coffee that makes you spit out grounds. Nature’s Coffee Kettle is the first coffee brewer in a bag for a group. Tear off the top of the pouch and pour in boiling water. The top part has a filter with coffee in it that slowly drips into a lower part. The built-in spout lets you pour it from the bag (MSRP $5.99-$6.99). Coming soon are replaceable filters, so you don’t have to throwaway the bag each time. Also available: tea, soups, hot cider and hot chocolate with other soups coming soon. www.naturescoffeekettle.com

If Americans counted up all of the plastic disposable cutlery thrown out every year, we’d be mortified to find that what we toss could circle the equator 300 times, according to To-Go Ware. The companyis fighting that wastefulness with the Reusable Bamboo UtensilSet that includes a fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks. They come in a holder made of recycled PET plastic bottles with a mini carabiner -- and the slogan “Reduce your forkprint.” (MSRP $11.95, www.to-goware.com)

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Stuff to wear on your head, neck and toes

Bridgedale’s new X-Hale Light Hiker sock (MSRP $17.95) includes Nanoglide yarn that is said to reduce friction to prevent blisters – call it the Lube Tube, if you will. Made of tiny particles of PTFE (measuring less than 1 micron), Nanoglide also helps manage moisture and keep feet cool. The X-Hale is also made of merino wool (17 percent), nylon (39 percent), polypropylene (39 percent) and Lycra (1 percent). www.bridgedale.com

Discovery Trekking Outfitters wants you to stay cool. Its new Cooling Towel, Cooling Head Scarf and Cube Tube will do just that, the owner said. All are made from a highly absorbent material that will not dry too quickly and will keep you cool partly via evaporation. Wet them down, wring them out and wave them around to activate. The Tube can be filled with ice for more hours of cooling. Towel (10-inches-by-36-inches) has an MSRP of $19.95. www.discoverytrekking.com

Runners need to be seen and New Balance has you in mind with its new 3M Jacket that has 70 square inches of reflectivity spread among all four quadrants of your body -- the only one of its kind in an exclusive relationship for now with 3M. Out in January for an MSRP of $90. www.newbalance.com

Protect yourself from the sun with Tilley’s newest addition called the T7 Mesh hat (they call it the “Big Hat” in-house so go with that too). The mesh in the brim is brilliant with its back-venting so the heat escapes but the sun can’t get through the mesh and it still keeps you cool. Made with organic cotton with an MSRP of $78. www.tilley.com

Lighting up and timing your life

Energizer introduced what it called the first hybrid solar lights with an embedded solar panel plus either a hand crank, DC outlet or D cell batteries. The Solar Spotlight (MSRP $42.99) with a DC car adaptor has four LEDs for 24-lumen power. Five hours of sun time can let you light up your life for 3.5 hours. Charge in the car for 12 and you’ll see the light for six. It’s super light and even floats if you happen to go overboard. www.energizerlightingproducts.com

Finally -- if we dare say that -- Timex introduced its version of a training watch with all the timing, pacing bells and whistles with a GPS (MSRP $300) -- the Global Trainer GPS with chronograph, speed, distance, heart-rate monitoring too, all in a customizable four-window data display. Everything you’d expect. But we were really taken by the Race Trainer Pro (MSRP $170). Nope, not GPS, but the watch is designed to sit on the side of your wrist so if you’re cycling or running, you can with a quick glance and sans a twist of the arm or wrist actually see how you’re doing. Like duh, yes? Then there was the 50-Lap Dual Tech (MSRP $80) that allows you to turn off the digital face so you look like a normal person with a normal watch at the office. www.timexironman.com

Woof… what about me?

As a part of its product introductions that covered the gamut, Alite Designs also decided it was a dog’s life. The Boa Light Leash (photo - below) has a tiny built-in pouch with a zipper to store poop bags which you always need; the Boa Pod is just the pouch you can attach to your current leash; the Kung Fu Collar has an itty-bitty zip pouch on it -- does Fido need the house key? All, except the pod, with full reflectivity (MSRPs $13-$30). www.alitedesigns.com

Although for dogs, human passers-by were encouraged to nibble on a piece of Peakwaggers’ jerky or kibble. The company stresses lightweight, compact, non-perishable gourmet dog meals and snacks – basically, backpacking and camping food for Rover that are all-natural and human-grade. “What I make, you can eat,” said owner Gayle Brooks. Jerky retails for $7-$9 for one four-ounce, vacuum-sealed package. www.peakwaggers.com

Do dogs know or care if their food is natural or organic? We’re not really sure since we know dogs will eat just about anything smooshed on the street. Still, Zuke’s now has an organic line and added “crunchy” snacks to it, including the HealthNutz item that is nuts smashed in with organic oats, barley and molasses for a corn- and wheat-free treat. Notice the cut-out on the front of all the packages? That’s the owner’s dog, Zuke, a chocolate lab who helped them found the company. www.zukes.com

Nighty-night

In preparation for the launch of Sea to Summit’s down sleeping bag line, designer Nathan Kukathas spent more than a year rethinking every feature of a sleeping bag, from the fill to zippers to construction methods, and finding creative ways to improve on each one. Sea to Summit claims its bags are the lightest down bags made, and while we furrow our brow at most grandiose claims, the bags are indeed featherweight. A 5-degree, 850-power-fill down Alpine II bag weighs 2 pounds, 13 ounces. At $649, it isn’t cheap, but since there isn’t enough space here to describe all the cool features and design tweaks, you’ll have to trust us that it’s worth every penny by the look of it. The only catch we see is that because a sleeping bag looks, well, like a sleeping bag, the coolness of the Sea to Summit bags won’t just leap off the shelf at a consumer, meaning it will require a well-trained salesperson and/or strong POP materials. www.seatosummit.com

--Therese Iknoian

The SNEWS® team of seasoned reporters covers a trade show to seek out product highlights, indications of a trend (to a product category, a company or the industry) or products that are new to the market. In our post-show reports, we do not write about every last piece of gear or equipment we have seen, although, promise, we have most likely seen nearly everything. Even if not in a show report, you never know how information may be included in a future report, trend watch, product review or story. If you have any comments or questions, please email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com.

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